Does the West Ham Way still exist?
By Joe Harker
West Ham have just appointed David Moyes as manager, replacing the sacked Slaven Bilic. Moyes takes over a club in the relegation zone, with only nine points in the Premier League so far.
In addition, the reaction to his appointment has been lukewarm, with many fans underwhelmed at a manager who has failed in his last three jobs. While the short term goal for the club is to avoid relegation, the long term goal is to bring back the "West Ham Way", the style of play that the fans associate with the team.
However, there are many who believe that the West Ham Way has not been played for decades and is now nothing more than a myth. It is often used as a stick to beat the club with by other fans, seeing it as West Ham clinging to a set of principles the club has not remotely embodied for years. The Evening Standard believe now is the time to put the myth to bed and stop trumpeting it. They said: "In fact, it makes this a good time to set aside all those fallacies about the Hammers' unquenchable penchant for elegant, lovely football and about their much-marketed Academy, too. It all happened decades ago."
If West Ham can be accused of living on past glories, perhaps it is because the present makes for rather unpleasant viewing. In recent years the club at their best can just about make it into the top half of the table, with the high point being their seventh placed finish in the 2015/16 season, but they are generally a mid table side at best. They have also been subject to several poor decisions in recent years, with an unimpressive transfer record and their move to the London Stadium has seen then trade an atmospheric stadium for a soulless one.
While they may want to bring back the West Ham Way, they increasingly look like a club with an identity crisis. The appointment of Slaven Bilic and the 2015/16 season looked like an encouraging start, but that has all since fallen away. The squad is stacked with mercenaries that appear to lack desire for the club and their home stadium is built for athletics rather than football. If West Ham were trying to rebuild an identity, they have gone the wrong way about it.
Moyes has a challenge on his hands if he wants to revive the West Ham Way, and has said that in the short term he will be focusing on results above all else. He acknowledged that former Hammers manager Sam Allardyce criticised the idea, but did not do the same. He said: "I think Big Sam said 'what is the West Ham way?'. First, let's get a winning formula. If I can win attacking and entertaining then that's the way I want my teams to play. But first I just want the team to win."